Question About College Costs!

Updated on October 15, 2017
O.L. asks from Long Beach, CA
14 answers

Good morning! For those of you who have children in college, how much do you pay per year for school? I'm wanting to get a sense of the overall costs. I do recognize that it depends on whether we do private or public schools. But, i'm still curious!


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answers from Oklahoma City on

Both OU and OSU would cost about $25K-$30K per year, based on housing, food programs, Greek/non-Greek, spending habits, books, etc...

Plus, if they're out of state you can about double that.

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answers from Dallas on

We started a college fund not long after I found out I was pregnant because we personally felt like it was our obligation as parents to get our daughter through college debt free. I realize that we are a minority with our thought process.

That's said... we saved every year and funded her 529. Our goal of $250,000 was based on not knowing what she would choose so we planned expenses for private colleges and if we met those goals, public would certainly be covered. She's currently a senior in college and fast tracking for her masters.

I pay basic tuition, books special fees each semester (about $10,000 - $12,000). This is funded via her 529. Her college is public and highly rated business school.

I personally pay all other expenses such as housing, etc out of my pocket to ensure she'll be covered through grad school. This is about $6000-$8000 a semester.

We purchased her condo when she started college and this will help her in the future if she chooses to live there, sell or take a mortgage on it if needed. It's in my name but her condo. It's not on campus.. it's about 15 minutes away in a very good area of town.

Pricing varies... her school has a set tuition for 4 years but that does not include any summer or online courses which can easily be $2000 minimum each.

Most internships which are required for graduation are with no pay so I subsidized that as well. This summer she was fortunate enough to have a paid internship.

My daughter maintains a 4.0 although I wish she put less pressure on herself. She also works a minimum of 20 hours a week in the business school as an account manager to recruit companies to come in, participate in the program and in turn, recruit the business students. I personally prefer her to not work during her studies but she excels in her program and the professors talked her into it. Long term, I'm sure it will benefit her. She also helps me with our company very part time but enough to qualify for her benefits and 401K.

So, my child does realize and appreciate what we planned years ago because she sees others with huge struggles trying to pay for and get through college without a mountain of debt.

She also knows how my late husband and I were very much planners and very driven. Thank God she's got the drive and motivation as well. She has received several academic scholarships which certainly helped!

You can't put a price on the amount to have in a college fund or another savings plan for education. Talk with your financial advisor and they can help guide you for appropriate contributions and what type of fund to set up.

Any leftover funds after graduate school, etc is eligible to be rolled into an education fund for daughters future children. She pays some things herself so she can ensure a good start to education fund is already started for her children.

Sorry for the novel but I'm a firm believer in getting my child out of college debt free so she's got a clean slate and can make her own path for her career and her family.

Personal note... I worked 3 jobs and paid my way through my college myself. My late husband did the same thing but he was a championship golfer and had a full ride for undergrad and graduate school was Duke.

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answers from Norfolk on

Our son is a freshman this year at Va Tech and we're paying about $28,000 per year.
That's in-state.
I had a sobering thought - one year of college costs us more than what my mom spent on buying her house in 1972.
The fact is - college is simply out of reach financially for a lot of people.
It's not practical to run up debt that can never be paid off in a single lifetime.

He was accepted at 2 out of state colleges and those wold have cost $50,000 and $35,000 per year - and while it was worth applying and would have been doable with a full ride scholarship they weren't doable without it - and we knew that.
The grants and scholarships have a LOT of competition and even kids with 4.0 GPA and better (yeah, it's possible to get a 5.0 GPA in high school now and some college credits too) don't always get a lot of help.
On top of that - many "4 year" degrees will take longer than 4 yrs to complete, add another year for masters and at least a year or two for a doctorate.
Co-ops/internships can help (work experience in your field before you graduate sometimes paid which can bring some money in to help with costs).
We have his college savings acct which should cover a lot but not all of it, and he has to take out a few loans while we are trying to keep that as low as possible.

For us - we got together with a financial planner and it helped enormously to find out what our options were and how to manage college while still keeping our retirement goals on track.
It was a relief to find out we were in much better shape than a lot of people in our planning and saving stage.
Things have changed a lot since my husband and I went to college and the financial planner was fantastic in getting us through the maze of options and choices that are available today.

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answers from Chicago on

My oldest graduated in December. He went 4 years plus an extra semester because he was on an athletic scholarship and could not do student teaching while doing that. He went to a school in Chicago that is about 55K per year (includes meals/housing). He checked out state schools and it turns out the private ones were able to offer tons more aid. He had both academic and athletic scholarships plus grants, so we paid about 50K over the course of 4 and a half years. Younger son is in his 5th year (changed majors) at a private school in our state which charges around 30K per year (includes housing/meals). Again he was able to get a better deal with scholarships and grants. He lives off campus and shares renting a house, so no dorms. We are looking at paying around 25K for all five years. We are probably in the minority, but I did not push either one to work during school, especially the one with the athletic scholarship. They worked in the summer to supplement. Without the scholarships there would have been no way we could have prepared to pay for it all. Definitely fill out the FAFSA and communicate with the financial aid offices at the schools you are interested in. Also research grants and scholarships at the schools and in general. There is a ton of money out there, it just takes a lot of work to find it. Of course, state schools are excellent too. My stepdaughter went 6 years (changed majors a couple of times) and lived off campus and worked part time while she went. She only needed about 12K from us through all of it, which is really good.

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answers from Washington DC on

What are your kids ACT/SAT scores?
What is your kids GPA?
Does your child excel at a sport?
Is your child in the Band? Does one of the universities sponsor your child's school like a "sister school"?
Is your child in Orchestra?

You realize you can look these up on-line, right?

Is your child going to stick with California schools for in-state tuition?
Is your child going to apply for a scholarship?
Is your child going to do the ROTC program?
HOW OLD is your child? If your child is still in elementary school? Costs will change by the time he/she is in high school.

My oldest son graduates in June 2018. He has been offered a scholarship based on his academics and SAT score for Wesleyan University. Tuition is $36K per year - that's JUST the school - doesn't include meal plan, books, room/board. He is applying for a ROTC scholarship to cover the cost of his books, room/board and meal plan. He should be covered.

Will your child need a dorm room or will he/she be commuting to school?
Will your child need a meal program? they didn't have those when I went to college.

I would google the schools your child is interested in. Find out the acceptance rate, what they are looking for in way of qualifications and costs. I haven't found a university yet that doesn't have in-state and out-of-state tuition, room costs, meal plans, etc.

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answers from New York on

Um, aren't your kids like 8 yrs old?

It is never too early to start saving for your children's college, but realistically, you cannot use today's numbers to budget for something 10 years from now. As it stands today, college could cost you anywhere between nothing (because your kid gets a free ride for whatever reason) to $50k+ a year. It is ridiculous to try to even make a blanket state like "sense of overall costs" because there are simply too many possible factor PLUS the increases that will likely take place over the next 10 or more years.

What we did was we decided what our level of contribution would be towards our children's college education. We have 6 kids. Each kid had a trust fund account set up specifically for college. It was designed to pay for the 1st year of college at a "mid-cost" college. As the time grew close for each kid, we adjusted our contributions based on what we figured the cost would be and where they were applying. They did not get the "left over" funds if there was any due to going to a cheaper school than planned - that rolled to the next kid (so to speak). They got nothing if they didn't go to college (it was a college trust - not a screw around and live in your parent's basement trust). If they joined the military and didn't need the money, they still get a portion of the trust for a down payment on house when they purchase one. Our kids were also lucky that their grandma (my mom), did something similar on a smaller scale and that usually ended up paying for about 1/2 of their 2nd year tuition. After that, our kids had to work and use their own college savings (as well as apply for work study, scholarships, etc), take student loans, etc. to pay for the other years of their college education. Each of our kids had to deposit 1/2 of every check they earned working in high school into a savings account for college. For most of my kids, that usually paid for the other 1/2 of tuition their 2nd year and their room/board costs their 2nd year. This left them with just their 3rd and 4th years to pay for.

Our oldest still has a fair amount of student loan debt, but she should have it paid off within the next few years (she also went to the most expensive colleges of all the kids and attended the longest). Two of our kids have less than $5k left of student loans, and our son has none and will have none. Our youngest two are special needs so no college expenses for them. (all of our kids are under 30 yrs old)

I do have to say that kids should be required to make a serious financial contribution to their own college education. However, I know that many parents do not agree with and and have decided to pay for their child's adult education - even at the risk of their own financial future. To each his own.

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answers from Washington DC on

I’ve had 2 go through college on ROTC 4 year scholarships. I had to pay room and board for one and the other had an academic scholarship that covered the R&B portion. The academic scholarships always come with strings attached - like GPA requirements. My daughter had to maintain a 3.5 to keep that scholarship. It sounds easy if your kid is a 4.0 gpa high school student, but the college level is completely different...
Tuition is the least of your worries. Room and board is turning out to cost more than tuition. It used to be 50-50.
In state tuition is usually less than private, but remember that the private schools have more cash to give in the form of grants and scholarships.

ROTC is a great way to get some of those college expenses paid - the ROTC scholarship covers tuition and some fees, but not room and board.
If you are going to to the ROTC route, start early! Start filling out those applications in the spring of the junior year. They all require recommendations from teachers - get those before he leaves school in May of the junior year. Also - the first boards (where the services decide which applicants they want) are in August. Make sure your student’s application is complete - have him or her call the office and make sure they have everything. If the high school says they sent the transcript, call and make sure they got it.

If I can answer any questions, please feel free to message me. I’ve been there twice. Paying for college can be daunting...

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answers from San Francisco on

For a CSU or UC with tuition, books, food and housing it's about $30K a year. Going out of state is even more though there is a program called Western Undergraduate Exchange (aka "WUE") where some schools in the west offer discounted tuition to qualifying students from neighboring states. We took advantage of this program when our son went to school in Arizona.
Be aware that to get into a UC these days almost certainly requires near perfect grades and excellent SAT scores and to get into a CSU (especially impacted campuses and programs) requires nearly the same level of academic achievement.
Private schools are often also hard to get into and run around $50-60K per year.

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answers from Springfield on

cost does not just depend on public or private. it depends o the course chosen, the scholarships and grants you apply for and qualify for and get. there is financial aid for those that make less than a certain amount of money. one can start with the general education classes at a community college and finish at a university. there are work programs that can assist with the cost. will the student be living in a dorm (if yes there is a cost for that) if the student can live at home and attend the college that will obviously be cheaper. i suggest you find out what course the student wants to take, the schools they want to go to and then call financial departments of each one to get a sense of how much things will be. if you want a more general answer than that so you can start a savings plan for the future of a youngster then just google it, they have national averages for cost of college education online. ( i can go to my community colleges site and within a minute know the complete cost of a course with book fees included)

my college degree cost around 10 grand while my brothers was closer to 35 grand different colleges, different programs but around the same time. the cost has gone up in the 10 years since and my degree is closer to 18 grand and brothers is probably closer to 50 grand

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answers from Miami on

A lot has to do with how good a student your child is. How high his or her SAT/ACT is. How good a college essay your child writes is. How many extracurricular activities, etc.

Some private schools will give good scholarships to students with a high ACT/SAT. One of my kids got a presidential scholarship to a small private school. I paid less for him to attend than my other son who went to a state school.

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answers from Boston on

My step-daughter goes to a private university in Montreal. The all-in cost is around $20K per year, much less than it would be in the US. Some of that is paid for by student loans, some from her mother and some from her grandparents. Comparable schools in the US, even after generous merit-based scholarships, would have been upwards of $30K per year.

My oldest son works full-time, lives at home and takes 2-3 classes per semester at a community college. I pay around $2K per semester out of pocket for tuition and fees and he pays for books. If he were a full-time student, the cost would be around $3K per semester. When he completes his associates, if he chooses to complete a bachelor's degree, the two schools he is considering would be around $20-$30K per year. Because of his income from his job, he might be expected to cover a lot of that out of pocket and be ineligible for substantial financial aid. We'll sort that out when we get there, but I don't think it will be pretty.

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answers from Dallas on

There are way too many factors. You will need to do a FAFSA and that will tell you how much Pell and Stafford Loans you are eligible for. You need to look at where your child's wanting to attend and their website should give you an idea of tuition and fees and if living on campus room and board. There are many sites you can also go to, to find outside scholarships that can help take cost down. Also the school may have some that your child could be eligible for. You need to contact the school that they wants to attend and talk to a councilor. That should be your first step. If you don't know where they want to attend that will be harder. Different schools have different cost for everything. I worked at a University for 14 years now I have a son fixing to start college this spring so I understand what you are going through

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answers from Philadelphia on

My daughter got scholarships to all the private schools she applied to. Sounds good but the scholarship money brought the cost down to $32,000-43,000per year depending on the school. Since we could not afford this and frankly didn’t think her degree was worth it, she is in a public college (in the Honors College)where we pay $22,000 per year and she will graduate debt free. Our family makes too much money to qualify for grants so although my daughter did not get a scholarship to the public college it is still considerably less expensive. (This includes room and board but not books and incidentals.)

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answers from New York on

Hi! My son is attending a local college for jazz guitar performance and it's close enough where he can live home. We pay $971 a month for classes. Hope that helps but it's all so different depending on your situation. Good Luck!

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